Just back from the Glasgow Film Theatre after watching Richard Gere’s Time Out of Mind.
The film tells to the story of George (Gere) a homeless man who is trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter. Light entertainment it is not, and you have to commit yourself to watching it and letting the director, Oren Moverman, speak through the eerie lack of dialog in the opening scenes. The effect is at first uncomfortable, and initially for me a little confusing, until it final sinks in that in the bustling city of New York George is constantly coping with complete isolation and exclusion from what is going on around him.
One theme of the film is the relentless struggle to simply get through 24 hours without a home, and the film depicts the struggle well. You’re pulled into the warmth and excitement of George finding a safe space to rest for a few hours, only to feel the sense of anger and frustration when he’s asked to move on.
You don’t get much of the back story as to why George finds himself homeless, and in some respects there is no need for any explanation. However the broken relationship that he has with his daughter reveals many years of a heartache and for brief moments you are pulled between both characters and the complexities of love and torment.
Throughout the film you witness George going from ‘pillar to post’ as he simply wants, in his words ‘somewhere to sleep’. Yet each agency, and there are many, want a social security number, drivers licenses, passport, last known address etc etc etc - none of which George possesses. You’re clearly directed to a sense of utter frustration at the insensitivity and relentless questioning that George has to endure, and all for a space to sleep.
You are watching first-hand the dehumanisation of a man in crisis, and the pinnacle of the film is George’s outburst of frustration and despair. “Am I homeless?” he cries “I don’t exist”. It’s here that we realise that our categories are thoroughly inappropriate for people. The whole film we’ve seen George as homeless and yet he only sees himself as himself. George is George, father, widow and son – a person just like you and me.
It’s well worth the watch and while at times uncomfortable viewing, I don’t think we’re ever supposed to feel comfortable that there are some people who are daily having their humanity ripped out from them.
Grant Campbell, Chief Executive, Glasgow City Mission